going dutch
June 10, 2009 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Moving to Amsterdam from San Francisco. What are the best areas to live, and what should I expect as an English-speaking American?
posted by plexi to Travel & Transportation around Amsterdam, The Netherlands (9 answers total)
hmmmm ... where to live ... anywhere inside the ringroad is preferable, and closer to the centre is better. North Amsterdam, unless in the "old bit", is generally not too good.

What to expect ... well ... everyone speaks English to a high level (so don't worry about that), now that bush and the republicans has been voted out you shouldn't be hassled too much about that, your dollar is a piece of shit v. the € so expect to cry when spending $US, the bureaucracy is PITA, especially the IND! erm ... buy a bike and 2 locks (and use them), AlbertHein is overpriced, try to learn some dutch, buy a museum card, remember the pot here is stronger than at home.
posted by jannw at 2:59 PM on June 10, 2009

Your language won't be an issue. Most of the population speaks English and their fluency will amaze you. (not sure why my prior comment got deleted, it was not meant to be snippy or anything)
posted by caddis at 3:02 PM on June 10, 2009

A lot depends on your budget. I like Oud-Zuid quite a bit, because it's quieter and has more green space than the Centrum, especially the bit near the Vondelpark, but it's still easy to get around by bike. If you're used to paying SF rents, even with the $/EUR exchange rate, you could find somewhere very pleasant indeed in the Centrum.

You should certainly learn some Dutch for politeness' sake in basic transactions, but if you're saying anything more than a perfunctory "alstublieft" or "dank U wel", chances are you'll get a reply in English.
posted by holgate at 3:14 PM on June 10, 2009

[W]hat should I expect as an English-speaking American?

Language won't be a problem. At all. But try and learn a modicum of Dutch, please and thank you etc.

And get used to people thinking you only moved there for the weed.
posted by alby at 3:31 PM on June 10, 2009

Dutch people are an adorable, quirky bunch. I have very fond memories of living there. You will find the Undutchables book/website to be very funny and insightful for your experience.
posted by randomstriker at 3:39 PM on June 10, 2009

...remember the pot here is stronger than at home.

Up for debate. Having spent a lot of time in both Northern California (with growers) and Amsterdam (just last week, in fact), I'd have to say that once you get to those levels of THC and variety, it's all good.
posted by gman at 3:54 PM on June 10, 2009

Method Man and Redman were doing a great job of taunting the crowd at the Melkweg on this very topic last Thursday.
posted by gman at 3:55 PM on June 10, 2009

Pick up a copy of the Amsterdam Resident's Guide. We picked it up through a recommendation here, and it's phenomenally detailed and helpful. It's basically an 'everything you need to know' guide for relocating. Think the Lonely Planet of permanent stays.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:34 AM on June 11, 2009

I know people who love living in Amstelveen (they work in Amsterdam Zuid-Oost, to give you an idea of the commute).

The GVB maps are helpful for making sure that you live near a bus/tram/metro stop.

Almost everyone speaks English, but not everyone. I like to ask "spreekt u Engels?" first (although usually if a person hears you speaking English, they'll go ahead and talk to you in English). Probably 99% of the time people are nice about it, whether they speak English or not [probably the other 1% would be rude to you anyway, even if you spoke Dutch :) ].

Be aware that some people's English comprehension might not be as good as they think it is. You don't have to be rude, just be cautious in important situations (like when negotiating a lease, setting up your bank account, working with the IND). Don't be afraid to ask questions.
posted by transporter accident amy at 7:16 AM on June 11, 2009

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